Light Reading

Orange on the Partner Hunt in Silicon Valley

Sarah Thomas

SAN JOSE -- Digital Disruption -- Orange has realized in the past 5-7 years that innovation has to come from both inside and outside the company, but it's leaning more toward outside these days.

Speaking on a panel here Tuesday, Georges Nahon, CEO of Orange Silicon Valley, the US arm of France Télécom, explained how the process of innovation has evolved at the Paris operator. It has its Orange Vallée subsidiary working on innovative communications apps inside, but it recently expanded its focus to look outside its walls and even outside its home country. (See: Innovation Makes Life Better for Orange and Is Orange Really Innovating?)

The company has had a Silicon Valley presence for years to be closer to the developer community. This May, it welcomed its inaugural class of startups as part of its Fab accelerator program, in which developers spend three months at Orange labs building new services that leverage the Orange network. (See: 'Orange Fab' Has Its First Startups and Euronews: Orange Hatches Startups.)

Rod Randall, executive partner at the private equity firm Siris Capital, joined Nahon on stage and talked up the power of investing outside the company to acquire talent. But Nahon said Orange is most interested in partnering, signing distribution deals, and potentially building special features today.

"We are being approached all the time about investors that want to see Orange be an acquirer in an existing company," he said. "We are a network services provider. We operate network services. We aren't an Apple creating devices. The network business is very resilient."

Sure, you can disrupt the network, Nahon said; voice is still there, even if it isn't what it used to be. But Orange is more interested in complementing what assets it does have with people who develop services on the periphery of its core business. "I don’t see ourselves getting into product design and manufacturing," he said. "The reason we want to invest in services companies is this is the other side of the network business, the people from the cloud and apps business. These are nice combinations. We don't converge; we combine."

Most of the innovation Orange has seen coming out of Silicon Valley has centered on mobile services, rather than infrastructure, but Nahon said the evolution to software-defined networking has shifted the focus. Young entrepreneurs think they can do telecom without the telcos or just build over the top of their networks -- and a good number of them have -- but Orange's goal with the Fab program is to show them the benefit of a partnership. One example he cited was a cloud-based call center that uses big data analytics behind the scenes to understand callers. Orange decided to partner with this company to co-brand and co-market the service.

The overall roadmap in terms of what services it develops is decided by Orange's top management in Paris, Nahon said, but with many more inputs than would have happened in the past. Part of that process is this new practice of talking to people and companies it hasn't talked to in the past but that might bring value to the industry. "You just can't put everything on a roadmap. You need to be prepared to disrupt the roadmap at some point."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/3/2013 | 5:34:29 PM
Re: Competing for partners
These are all very valid points. However I think that one of the larger issues faced by app developers is simply access to the carriers infrastructure.

Apps that leverage existing API's or unpublished capabilities lying on the fringe of he network are one thing, but the possibilities that lie in the network "crypt" are extremely difficult and timeconsuming to gain access to, even for the carriers internal "innovation" development.
User Rank: Blogger
10/29/2013 | 6:16:43 PM
Re: Competing for partners
Good point. It seems like if you're a developer with an innovative idea, you have a lot of options in front of you. But, if you are a developer with an innovative idea, I'm not sure an operator incubator is your first choice. I think it depends how far along you are and whether you want VC funding or to be acquired or to become an operator partner. Interesting, too, that it'd rather partner than acquire, although I wonder if it's eyeing exclusive or white-label-style partnerships.
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
10/29/2013 | 6:13:24 PM
Competing for partners
Given that every large service provider I talk to now says they are looking to be better partners to innovative applications and services companies, I wonder if any of these companies are being pursued by multiple carriers. 

I did like his frank assessment of what Orange is and what it isn't. 
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (9) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (1) comment

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Sprint, Verizon Face Reorganization, Job Cuts
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/20/2015
Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.